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Nearly 90 shell casings found at Dadeville mass shooting scene, seven guns fired

Dadeville suspects leave court. (WBMA)
Dadeville suspects leave court. (WBMA)
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UPDATE: Tallapoosa County judge orders suspects held without bond.

New details about the mass shooting in Dadeville were revealed in an Aniah's Law hearing on Tuesday. The hearing was to determine if the suspects can continue to be held without bond. Tallapoosa County Judge Kim Taylor indicated he will make a ruling in 24-48 hours.

Four were killed in the shooting and 32 injured at the Sweet 16 birthday party in downtown. Four are still recovering in the hospital with critical injuries.

Five of the suspects were in court Tuesday. For the first three defendants the court was open to the media and public: 20-year-old Johnny Letron Brown of Tuskegee, 19-year-old Willie George Brown Jr. of Auburn, and 20-year-old Wilson LaMar Hill Jr. of Auburn.

The hearing was closed for the 16-year-old and 17-year-old suspects. Extra security was on hand and the suspects all wore bulletproof vests.

On the stand ALEA Special Agent Jess Thornton said 89 shell casings were recovered at the scene, the majority of which came from a 9mm handgun. Most shell casings were found in the back right corner of the venue. Thornton said sixty or more people were at the party advertised on social media at the Mahogany Dance Studio April 15th.

SEE ALSO: 'I want to know who did this and why': Father reflects on son killed in Dadeville shooting

SEE ALSO: Jacksonville State football commit among four dead in Dadeville mass shooting

Thornton told the court it's believed from ballistics testing that seven guns were fired inside the small party venue. Shell casings recovered from the Dadeville scene have been tied to a shooting incident in Auburn according to Thornton. That gun has not been recovered.

Possibly two of the guns used had been modified with a rapid fire switch according to testimony. Witnesses said it "sounded like a machine gun." No motive was revealed in the hearings.

Thornton testified it was the largest crime event of this magnitude he had ever been to. He told the court some witnesses were reluctant and frightened to testify about the shooting. The four fatalities were found near the front door. Thornton said they were "laid together side by side."

Thornton testified at one point it was announced at the party if anyone was over 18 and had a gun they needed to leave the gathering.

Two guns were recovered at the scene. One was in the pocket of one of the deceased victims and had not been fired. Another was found placed on the body of one of the deceased, 23 year old Corbin Holston. According to Thornton, the defendants claim Holston fired first and was at some point seen wearing a ski mask.

Thornton says the suspects all knew each other and some were related. They met up before or after the shooting. They were not specifically invited to the party, but heard about it through social media posts according to his testimony. Thornton said five of the six defendants admitted to being at the party.

Thornton told the court a few of the suspects were interviewed the day after the shooting and were "not truthful."

He testified one of the suspects was wearing a GPS monitor related to a shooting at a residence in Tuskegee. Thornton told the judge he believes the suspects are a threat and should remain in custody.

Defense attorneys pointed out the lack of a criminal history among all the defendants but one and ties to the community as reasons their clients should be allowed out on bond.

The venue was very dark and the defense said it is possible witnesses did not accurately see things. Search warrants were conducted at the defendants homes and no weapons were recovered.

An individual the suspects knew was among the injured in the shooting. One of the defense attorneys pointed out the defendants were helping that person until medical help arrived.

The sixth suspect is a fifteen year old. His case remains in juvenile court and no information has been released. The District Attorney says the state will request that case be moved to adult court.

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The next step in the court process is a preliminary hearing followed by a grand jury hearing for possible indictments and additional charges.

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